- Tens of thousands demonstrate in Berlin in support of the protests in Iran
- Crowd Koreas ‘Death to Khamenei’ at Berlin rally
- Protests enter sixth week despite deadly crackdown
- Revolutionary Guards warn cleric of ‘unrest’ in southeast
BERLIN/DUBAI, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people marched in Berlin on Saturday in a show of support for protesters in Iran, where unrest sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody entered its sixth week. despite deadly state repression.
The protests have posed one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution, even if they don’t appear to come close to toppling a government that has deployed its powerful security apparatus to quell unrest.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, died in morale police custody after being detained for “inadequate dress”. Protests erupted at his funeral on September 17 in the Kurdish city of Saqez before spreading across Iran. Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed in the crackdown.
Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Women have played a prominent role, waving and burning veils. The death of several teenage girls allegedly killed during the protests has further fueled the anger.
In Berlin, police estimated that some 80,000 people joined the march, with protesters waving Iranian flags and banners reading “Woman, Life, Freedom.” Organizers said the Iranians had traveled from the United States, Canada and across the European Union.
“From Zahedan to Tehran, I sacrifice my life for Iran,” human rights activist Fariba Balouch said after giving a speech at the Berlin meeting, referring to Iranian cities swept by protests. The crowd responded with “Death to Khamenei,” referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Anti-government activists said the Berlin march was the largest demonstration against the Islamic Republic by Iranians abroad.
“I feel very good, because we are here to (say) ‘We are with you, with all the Iranian people.’ I am the voice of Mahsa Amini,” said a protester who identified herself as Maru.
Videos posted on social media, which Reuters was unable to independently verify, showed protests continuing across Iran in several cities, including Tehran, northeastern Mashhad, northwestern Mahabad, Dezful in the southwestern and several universities across the country. the country.
Videos showed protesters chanting in Tehran’s western Sadeghieh neighborhood and lighting fires in the streets of the capital’s Lalehzar district. Another showed cars in Mashhad honking their horns and protesters chanting “Death to the dictator.”
Social media videos said to be from Dezful showed youths chanting “Freedom, freedom, freedom” as they clashed with police in the oil-rich, predominantly Arab province of Khuzestan on the border with Iraq.
‘THE LAST WARNING’
Khamenei has warned that no one should dare to think he can uproot the Islamic Republic, accusing his opponents of fomenting unrest. State television has reported the death of at least 26 members of the security forces.
Some of the deadliest riots have taken place in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities with longstanding grievances against the state. These include the province of Sistan-Baluchistan in the southeast and its provincial capital, Zahedan.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Saturday accused a prominent Sunni cleric of agitating against the Islamic Republic and warned it could cost him dearly after he blamed officials including Khamenei for dozens killed in Zahedan last month.
Amnesty International has said that security forces killed at least 66 people in a crackdown after Friday prayers in Zahedan on September 30.
Molavi Abdolhamid, the top Sunni cleric in Zahedan, said during his Friday sermon that officials, including Khamenei, head of the Shiite-dominated state, were “accountable before God” for the September 30 killings. He described the murder as a massacre and said bullets had been fired into his head and chest.
A brief statement on Sepah News, the official news site of the Revolutionary Guards, read: “Mr. Abdolhamid, encouraging and agitating the youth against the holy Islamic Republic of Iran may cost you dearly! This is the final warning!” “
State media said that at the time of the September 30 violence, “unidentified armed individuals” opened fire on a police station, prompting security forces to respond.
The Revolutionary Guard said five members of its forces and Basij volunteer militia were killed during the September 30 violence. Authorities blamed a Baluchi militant group. Neither that group nor any other faction claimed a role.
The protests had been fueled by allegations of the rape of a local teenage girl by a police officer. Authorities said the case was under investigation.
After protests broke out again in Zahedan on Friday, Deputy Interior Minister for Security Majid Mir Ahmadi said calm had returned, the official IRNA news agency reported.
He said 150 “thugs attacked public property and even Sunni-owned shops.”
Rights groups say the government has long discriminated against ethnic minorities, including Kurds.
The state denies the allegations of discrimination.
On Saturday, in the Kurdish region of Iran, videos posted online showed shopkeepers on strike in several cities in the northwestern Kurdish region, including Sanandaj, Saqez and Bukan.
Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Dubai newsroom reporting and Victoria Waldersee, Leon Malherbe and Oliver Denzer in Berlin; written by Tom Perry; editing by Alex Richardson and Christina Fincher
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.